Parkland Speaks

Survivors From Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories

Edited by MSD teacher Sarah Lerner

This book was a powerful, emotional raw book to read. I had to read it in short spurts because I would get emotional and go back to that day watching the news filter in through the internet.  The poems, journal entry accounts, pictures and drawings were done by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas themselves. These kids lived that day and still to this day live that day. They experienced something I haven’t and can’t even imagine how it would impact me as an adult let alone a teenager. I work in an elementary school and have gone through the training’s – they scare me and stay with me long after I’m done. I can’t even wrap my head around it being the real thing. These kids are survivors, brave, strong and a voice that will not be silenced!  We need to stand up with these kids – our kids and make sure this and other school shootings do not get swiped under the rug. Kids should not have to worry about this, their biggest school worries should be grades, friends, etc.. School is supposed to be a safe place and so many middle school and high school kids I’ve heard from are scared every day that this could happen to them and that breaks my heart. Each journal entry, poem, drawing and photo was a personal glimpse into what they are feeling after the horrific Valentines Day that forever changed the lives of so many at Stoneman Douglas. I know this book touched me and want to thank each one of them for allowing me to read PARKLAND SPEAKS.

The closig line from CAN’T YOU HEAR by Allyson Sheehy  ” Can’t You Hear the screams now? Cause they are only growing louder.” PARKLAND SPEAKS is making sure that happens and I hope they continue to grow louder till reform and change happens.

About the book: Featuring art and writing from the students of the Parkland tragedy, this is a raw look at the events of February 14, and a poignant representation of grief, healing, and hope.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School share their emotional journeys that began on February 14, 2018, and continue today. This revealing and unfiltered look at teens living in the wake of tragedy is a poignant representation of grief, anger, determination, healing, and hope.

The intimate collection includes poetry, eyewitness accounts, letters, speeches, journal entries, drawings, and photographs from the events of February 14 and its aftermath. Full of heartbreaking loss, a rally cry for change, and hope for a safe future, these artistic pieces will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives and the importance of valuing and protecting the ones you love.

Thank you Crown Books for Young Readers and Get Underlined for allowing me to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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Snow in Love

by Aimee Friedman –  Kasie West – Melissa De La Cruz – Nic Stone

I said I’d never read a Christmas / Hanukkah / Winter themed YA compilation again after Let It Snow. I didn’t like that book at all. However I’m a sucker for sweet holiday themed stories so I knew if I saw there was a new compilation made I’d check it out from the library. I’m so glad I did I really liked these stories, some more than others but they were all great.

SNOW AND MISTLETOE by Kasie West: ( 4 stars )  The first story in the book and the best one! I really loved everything about this story from Amalie and Sawyer secretly crushing on each other to the great road trip that followed. The story was sweet and innocent and a great way to start off this book. This was my favorite of the four.

WORKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND by Aimee Friedman:  ( 3 stars ) This story I guess was okay. I was happy to find out the main character Maxine was Jewish. There are so few Hanukkah books out there for teens. So I was excited to dive into it. However it didn’t really even touch Hanukkah this holiday and all the rich traditions that come with it. I guess in a way it did show us what’s it is like to have Christmas everywhere and very little Hanukkah anywhere.

THE MAGI’S GIFTS by Melissa De La Cruz: ( 2 stars ) I just didn’t click with this one. Nothing wrong with the story really just didn’t hook me like the first two.  I mean come on you sell a family heirloom to buy a gift for a friend and not get in trouble really!

GROUNDED by Nic Stone: ( 3.75 stars ) I super sweet cute story. I really enjoyed the storyline and characters. This was a first for me to read Nic Stone but I think I need to read more. If Nic Stone can write such a fully developed story in so few pages I really need to read one of their books and ASAP.

I Do Not Trust You

by Laura J Burns and Melinda Metz

 

First off can we talk about the beautiful cover! I love its bold reds on the dark background! It is really eye catching and what made me stop and read more about this book.

I Do Not Trust You is the first book I’ve read from this author duo and hopefully I can find the other book or books they have written. I really enjoyed this book and would love to read their other stuff. I’m always up for a good mythological adventure and this one did not disappoint!  I loved all archeology and mythology the book had in it. There was even some suspense with hoping and wondering if they were going to be okay. The characters were well developed and diverse. Memphis is a kick butt girl many have compared to a teenage Laura Croft. I haven’t seen those movies but I do know a little and yes I see it. Ash was a good character as well and they really bounced off of each other making the reader feel like they good for each other even if they didn’t know that yet. The main aspect that hooked me and kept me reading was the myth and world building. The authors did such a great job and I’d love to read more mythological – archeological stories by these two fine authors.

About the book: Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome. Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help.

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

Thank you so much Algonquin and Netgalley for allowing me to read I Do Not Trust You. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

By Kerry Wilkinson

 

 

Upon reading the The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker I thought it sounded a lot like 13 Minutes. I liked that one okay but it didn’t really hold my interest. This one sounded like it might be one I liked more and I was right. My YA reader and I really enjoyed how this story unfolded. The story was well written, fully developed and had many moments where the reader’s imagination was really stretched to think beyond the normal mystery. It has some supernatural feels and that is what made us like it. The characters seemed realistic and ones you had to keep reading about. You had to know what was going to happen next. The author is new to us and we will have to check out her other books to see if they are just as good. I really enjoyed this mystery – coming of age book. My YA reader and I thought this would be a good movie or mini series on Netflix. Overall we thought this was a perfect Spooktober book to read if you can wait that long.

About the book: A village with something to hide. Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…

A community torn apart. Eleanor is a normal, every day teenager. She argues with her mum, spends her days with her best friend, and is looking forward to a carefree summer of sunshine and music. Who would want to hurt her?

A shocking secret. Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

When Elephants Fly

by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Publication Date: September 4 2018

Buy the Book (or put on hold at your local library! I don’t get any $$ if you click and buy from links) AmazonBarnes and Noble

Add to your GoodReads shelf

 

This book – oh my stars this book not only got me out of a reading slump but I feel for this book hard. I finished it in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t stop reading it and when I got to tired to read I got up way before the sun so I could read some more. Now I’m sad because I’m done reading it. This book tackles so much from mental illness and suicide ( Lily’s), a wonderful best friend of Lily that is tired of not living his true self and comes out to his parents (who btw are total butt heads. I’d call them worse but don’t want to be flagged with all the cuss words) the plight of elephants in the wild, it also touches base on the abuse some captive elephants experience at the hands of less than ethical in my opinion handlers in the zoo and circus setting. I know the author worked for the biggest circus in the USA but I’m very against circus maybe Ringling didn’t use these tactics but I just don’t agree with circus acts in general. Okay now on to this amazing book!

Lily’s life hasn’t been a normal kid upbringing. Her mom had paranoid schizophrenia and when Lily was 7 her mom tried to kill her. Her mom was obsessed with Peter Pan and thought they could fly to Neverland. Lucky for Lily the police officer that was on the roof with her dad grabbed her as her mom threw her off the roof. What had stayed in the back of Lily’s mind was her dad saved the mom and not her. He also saved the mom many times by ignoring all the abuse Lily experienced leading up to that fateful night on the roof. Lily is terrified that she will become her mom since it is genetic and pretty much all the women in her mom’s family have schizophrenic to some degree. So she leans on her best friend Sawyer to administer quizzes to make sure she isn’t starting to develop it as well as make sure she sticks to her 12 year plan to avoid all triggers leading up to age 30. Sawyer is always there for her but really needs Lily to be there for him as well. He is living a lie and wants to just be the true Sawyer he is. He finally comes out to his parents and is kicked out of the house. One thing I wish the author had done with Sawyer was not make him so rich. When his parents kicked him out he was able to look at all these uber expensive apartments and moved out fine. Most teens that come out to there parents and are kicked out end up homeless or live in shelters unless they have family that will take them in. This I think would have made the book a 5 star for me if she had explored what really happens with most LGBTQPIA teens.

Swifty the baby elephant that is the center of the book and Lily’s story gives a lot of data on both African and Asian elephants in the wild and in captivity. Many zoo’s and refuges try to breed elephants to keep the numbers rising instead of decreasing like they are in the wild. Many times with any zoo breeding the baby isn’t accepted and even killed. This is what happens to Swifty Swift Jones (Sawyer donated 100,000 to the name the baby elephant contest and named the elephant after his favorite pop star. See what I mean about him from a very rich family). Because of a deal the zoo keeper made with the circus for the male  elephant specimen if Swifty mom doesn’t accept her Swifty because property of the circus. Property is all Swifty and the other animals are they are worked, kept in unsafe and unsanitary environments and abused to get them to perform. The rest of the book is Lily realizing that volunteering at the local town paper as a means to an end to get int USC journalism department is more  than that. She loves Swifty and she might not be able to save herself from her fate but she can save Swifty from her’s!

This is where I’ll end because if I talk anymore I’m going to give away the whole book. 🙂 When Elephants Fly was an amazing book that really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved Sawyer and Lily and really wanted them to be okay with the hand they have been dealt. I loved that these 2 lost souls had each other because everyone needs someone who will back them up no matter what. They have their ups and downs but in the end they have each other. While they didn’t get to pick their families they did find each other and became their own little family.

I gave this book 4 stars because I think it would have been more realistic if Sawyer wasn’t able to have all the money in the world to find a place to stay when his butt head dad kicked him out of the house for coming out as been gay.

Also this is a YA book but I did give this to my 7th grader. There was a few small not in detail adult scenes but nothing she hasn’t seen on Pretty Little Liars.

About the book: T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests. But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Thank you so very much Harlequin Teen for sending me this amazing book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Where the Watermelons Grow

by Cindy Baldwin

 

Where the Watermelons Grow deals with a tough subject that isn’t really out there much for middle grade and upper elementary grade readers mental illness. This book is heavy and can be too much for some readers, so you might want to read it before you hand it to your reader if you think it might a trigger. I really think readers ages middle grade through adult will enjoy this heart breaking book that really touched and has stayed with me. I just wanted to go into the book and give Della a huge hug. She is such a sweet strong girl who is facing so much in her life. I think this is one of those books that could help kids that are dealing with tough situations at home. They could see that they are not the only one’s that are dealing with these issues or similar ones. I know some are saying it could be for as young at 3rd grade but I really think for me at least this is an upper elementary and above. The story is well written, the characters are fully developed and the story is one that will touch every reader. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel from the author. I can’t wait to see what Cindy Baldwin writes next.  Grab this book from your local library or book store and read a wonderful book this summer!

About the book: When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

Thank you HarperCollins and Cindy Baldwin for allowing me to read Where the Watermelons Grow. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Museum of Us

by Tara Wilson Redd

 

 

I just couldn’t connect with this book and set it aside for another time. I will give it a second read but for now it just wasn’t holding my attention. Looking on Goodreads before I posted this showed that it has a lot of mixed reviews so I guess I’m not the only one on the fence for this one. Grab a copy from your library and give it a try you might like it.

Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness and Cutting

 

About the book:  Sadie loves her rocker boyfriend Henry and her running partner and best friend Lucie, but no one can measure up to her truest love and hero, the dazzling and passionate George. George, her secret.
When something goes wrong and Sadie is taken to the hospital calling out for George, her hidden life may be exposed. Now she must confront the truth of the past, and protect a world she is terrified to lose.

Thank you Wendy Lamb books and Random House for sending me a copy of The Museum of Us. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.